Alexa recorded a couple's private conversation and sent it to another Echo owner

Many smart speaker owners wonder if their private conversations are being recorded by the virtual personal assistant on their devices. According to Seattle television station KIRO, a private conversation between a woman identified only as Danielle, and her husband, was secretly recorded by the Alexa digital assistant on their Echo devices, and sent to a person who was on the family's contacts list.The recording took place inside the family's home in Portland, Oregon.

Danielle and her husband realized what happened when one of the husband's employees, who lives 176 miles away in Seattle, called on the phone to tell them that he had received audio files of their conversations. The employee knew that the couple had been talking about hardwood floors. Danielle had some of the audio files that her Echo had recorded played back for her and said, "I felt invaded. A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, 'I'm never plugging that device in again, because I can't trust it.'" She called Amazon who sent an Alexa engineer to investigate. He discovered that the logs confirmed everything that the couple had complained about, and he apologized profusely.

Amazon later gave an explanation. The company said that the virtual assistant thought that the hotword Alexa was said, and that activated the digital helper. During the conversation between Danielle and her husband, Alexa mistakenly heard the request to "send message." After asking "to Whom?" should the message be sent, more background conversation was interpreted as a name in the family contacts list. Alexa then tried to confirm the name of the person receiving the message, and turned background conversation into an approval to send it. Even Amazon agrees that this was an unlikely chain of events, but says it is working on ways to make it even more unlikely to repeat.

The family had an Echo in every room and was using them to control their lights and appliances. Amazon offered to fix Alexa so that it could be used only to enable and disable the appliances in the family's smart home, but that offer was declined. Instead, Danielle has unplugged all of the Echo units in the home and wants to return them to Amazon for a refund.

source: KIRO-TV



1. cozze02

Posts: 134; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

Lol, it was an honest mistake, I don't think I would go as far as saying "I'm never plugging it back in" like it's the Terminator

5. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Honest mistakes can be dangerous and even humiliating sometimes. Amazon should improve their software to no to make silly mistakes like this because people value their privacy more than anything.

2. Arthurhkt

Posts: 727; Member since: Apr 19, 2012

There are three type of people, people who doesn't care about their privacy, care a little or moderate, and there this who taken privacy seriously. While Alexa obviously is at fault here, but cleary the owner are kind of unforgiving type. You done a mistake once, you are fired. I kinda understand where she stand, but if she really care that much about privacy, it's time for her to stop using any "smart" devices.

6. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

If this happened to you, you wouldn't talk like that. Just imagine recording your private conversations and not only that but sending off to various people too.....omg lol

3. tommy11

Posts: 1; Member since: May 24, 2018

they dont finger print me at 6 flags anymore 'cause I gave up my familys season pass 5yrs ago.

4. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

This kind of stuff is why I decided not to buy a smart speaker.

9. Nimbus

Posts: 442; Member since: Apr 02, 2018

Your smartphone can do that but company won't tell so don't think u r safe.They have all ur data even u don't sit much on Internet all day beside u do on iPA.

12. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Why do you care if I choose not to buy one. This has happened more then just this time. You are right, are data is not safe on any smartphone, but my phone is not sending my conversation to anyone, well unless I butt dial them. That won't happen since I don't put my phone in my pockets. If you want or have one thats great, injoy.

7. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1284; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Hmmm, buying a smart speaker is a dumb decision??? Looks so...

8. CapedCrusaderRobin

Posts: 32; Member since: Dec 19, 2010

Watch she returns the Echo's to go and turn around and buy Apple Homepods or Google mini's.

10. jjface

Posts: 270; Member since: Jun 07, 2017

Someone certainly wanted some media attention.

11. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

We are in a very unique time. We live in the very early stages of AI and smart this and that. I don't blame the user or Amazon. We are clearly far from a maturity in terms of smart devices and we can't expect everyone to be forgiving beta testers of a production product.

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